Review: Mitsubishi Lancer EX 1.6 GLX MT

By Niky Tamayo
 

Mitsubishi Lancer EX 1.6 GLX MT

When the Mitsubishi Lancer EX debuted back in 2009, conspicuously absent was a base model with an economy engine. While this undoubtedly hurt sales, a cheaper Lancer EX would have made it impossible to shift the huge stockpile of "Cedia" Lancers left over from the previous production run.

Three years on, the Cedia is officially finito, and the local Lancer EX finally gets a 1.6-liter variant. While loaded with MIVEC variable-valve trickery, some might question whether such a small motor will work in such a big car. Well, that's what we're here to find out.

Mitsubishi Lancer EX 1.6 GLX MT

STYLING

Though a bit dated compared to more modern competitors, the Mitsubishi Lancer EX 1.6 GLX MTstill has that quintessential sports sedan spirit, much like the iconic Galant GTI. But besides style, the Lancer's long hood and rear deck are there for a reason. They make room for the extra hardware stuffed under the skin of the supercar-slaying Evo variant. While the 16-inch wheels and the lack of chrome and kit are more Clark Kent than Superman, a set of used 18-inch GTA wheels, a body kit and a "Ralliart" badge are just a trip to Banawe away.

Mitsubishi Lancer EX 1.6 GLX MT

INTERIOR

The Lancer interior has always been rather spartan, even on the top-dog Evo, and the GLX is even more so. It is a simple black-on-black affair of knuckle-rapping hard plastics. There's some carbon-fiber styled trim and perforated leatherette to break it up, but it's also black-on-black. While it looks decent, there are some fit-and-finish issues around the cabin. The stiff foam seats aren't anything to write home about, either. Perhaps the only saving graces here are the sporty instrument gauges and the decent driver ergonomics. The shifter falls readily to hand, and the pedals are perfectly spaced for heel-and-toe action.

Mitsubishi Lancer EX 1.6 GLX MT

Mitsubishi Lancer EX 1.6 GLX MT

ENGINE PERFORMANCE

Although a displacement of 1.6 liters doesn't promise much action, short gearing and a rev-happy motor make the Lancer engaging to drive. There's a bit of a dead spot around 3,000rpm, but the engine pulls nicely when it's wound up. At over 100kph, acceleration tapers off as the motor struggles with the brick-like aerodynamics, but that doesn't seem to affect economy. Driven conservatively, it gets 9km/L in traffic and 16-18km/L on the highway (20km/L is possible at a steady 70kph, but that's a rather frustrating exercise).

Mitsubishi Lancer EX 1.6 GLX MT

RIDE AND HANDLING

It's frustrating because the Lancer loves to play. Shorn of the heavy 2.0-liter engine, the EX is surprisingly light, and that lightness pervades the entire experience. It takes very little steering or pedal effort to make the Lancer stop, turn and go. The tall tires lack grip and thump around a bit, but the suspension is otherwise supple and controlled, despite some body roll. Other downsides include vague electric steering, a notchy shifter and a fiddly clutch. But find a good road and the Lancer EX still has the ability to engage. Even without a turbo or AWD.

Mitsubishi Lancer EX 1.6 GLX MT

EXTRA FEATURES

While it's no baby Evo, the EX GLX gives you the luxury of a DVD touchscreen with a backing-up camera and optional GPS. The speakers aren't great, but that's cheap and easy to fix. There are few cars this well-loaded and this spacious at this price. Still, I've always been a proponent of buying a car rather than buying toys, and I'd trade all the toys here for a Ralliart-spec suspension, bigger rims and lower-profile tires.

THE VERDICT

Not only does the 1.6-liter Lancer formula work, it works suprisingly well. This is a fun, economical and lively car to drive. And in terms of toys, the Lancer is the most loaded 1.6-liter in its class. But while it may appeal to the traditional buyer more than the futuristic Elantra or the refined Focus, there's no denying that the Lancer is starting to feel, well, old.Given the pricing, perhaps that can be forgiven, and the Lancer is definitely the best bargain in this market segment, but the next-generation Lancer can't come soon enough.

SPECS: MITSUBISHI LANCER EX 1.6 GLX MT

Engine: 1.6-liter MIVEC (variable valve) gasoline

Transmission: 5-speed manual

Power: 115hp @ 6,000rpm

Torque: 154Nm @ 4,000rpm

Drive layout: FWD

Seating: 5

Price: P825,000

Score: 16/20

Photos by Niky Tamayo

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  • MyFordSync Apr 23 2013 @ 06:57pm
    Better late than never...
  • bruce Apr 23 2013 @ 09:26pm
    Though the design is already old, it's appeal doesn't fade.. at least for me!
    • Allain May 06 2013 @ 05:24pm
      yes! still looks good to me too..only the dashboard looks old.
  • Kyoichi Sudo Apr 23 2013 @ 10:33pm
    The back-up camera really did surprise me, its an unexpected toy for an entry-level vehicle. And oh, so the Navi-system is the only one missing here huh? Well, I'll never mind paying an extra P6k just for that...

    The interior may be old but it still looks good, it rather looks racey for me since its almost the same w/ the ones on the LanEvo X supersedan. Only a GT-A bodykit w/ bigger rims and small-profile tryes are needed and this sedan will be legit enough to shame a Civic and an Altis...
  • anonemus1 Apr 23 2013 @ 10:48pm
    Almost the same review as made here: http://youtu.be/dddH4f7iFfs
    • Niky Tamayo
      Niky Tamayo Apr 24 2013 @ 09:34am
      Less equipment, and it gets the 2.5 liter engine we don't get here.

      A 2.5 mid-range model at 1.3m with Ralliart suspension would be nice.
  • carwiki Apr 24 2013 @ 09:03am
    For me, the 2.0 liter is better. Because, "clothes make the man" it means, it's more decorative and palatable. Just my humble opinion. Hehe.
  • MasterPipo Apr 24 2013 @ 10:14am
    I'm planning on buying the EX late Q2. I wanted to just buy the 1.6 base model since I wanted to change a lot of the stuff anyway. Is the engine that weak? How about other parts like the suspension and drivetrain? Anything that needs changing?

    oh BTW, can I ask the dealer to swap the entertainment system? I kinda like the ones in the higher end model
  • lord_cykb24 Apr 24 2013 @ 06:48pm
    I'd still love this over the "Futuristic Elantra" or the "Refined Focus", the value for money is here
  • meteorbites 11 months ago
    The backing-up camera or reverse cam doesn't come standard with the different variants for Lancer Ex. :(

    For this particular review, may we know what brand and model for the reverse camere?
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